Mars to make closest approach this summer

Updated: Jun. 18, 2018 at 1:43 PM CDT
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(KSLA) - Next month, you have a unique opportunity to go outside and see the planet, Mars. On July 31st, the red planet will be in close approach. According to NASA, that's when Mars and the Earth are closest to each other while they orbit around the sun. The planet will also be shining bright between July 27-31st and should be visible most of the night.

(Credit: NASA)

Now, how close is close? Only about 33.9 million miles! That may seem like a very large distance, but this doesn't happen that often. NASA reported in 2003 that Mars made its closest distance to the Earth in 60,000 years.! Unfortunately, none of us will experience that again until the year 2287.

Why does this happen? The orbit of planet is not a perfect circle, it is actually follows an elliptical path. This is more of an oval shape. So because of this, Scientists at NASA say the gravitational pull changes the path, and in turn will move closer to each other.

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

When the orbits of our planet and Mars are close, it makes Mars much brighter and easier to see. This will make it easier to see with a telescope and the naked eye. A viewing experience like this happens every 15-17 years.

The next time this will happen is on October 6th, 2020, where the distance between the Earth and Mars will be 38.6 million miles away.

(Credit: NASA)

As we get closer to the event, the First Alert Weather Team will update you on weather conditions the night of the viewing.

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